West Coast story gathering events to run throughout March

A series of both regional and thematic online workshops will take place throughout March as part of the story gathering phase of the Coast that Shaped the World project (Coast).

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Photo credit: Am Baile

‘Coast’ is a community-led story gathering project, looking to build a bank of stories, covering the west coast of Scotland from Wester Ross and Lewis in the north to Arran and Kintyre in the south. These stories will be narrated through a website, interactive app, and innovative exhibition material to encourage locals and visitors to explore the roads less travelled across the islands, peninsulas, and coastline of the west coast.

The 12 workshops that will be held in total will cover the six regions of the project, and six of the focus themes. The regional focuses are: Wester Ross, Skye and Lochalsh, Lochaber, Outer Hebrides, Argyll and Inner Hebrides, and Clyde Coast and Islands.

A key element of the Coast project has been working with a team of local story gatherers throughout the west coast of Scotland. The regional sessions will hear from some of the local story gatherers as well as provide the opportunity to share 'stories' about communities, places, people, and happenings throughout the west coast of Scotland. Anne Martin, a Gaelic singer from the Isle of Skye will also be discussing ‘Why stories and our heritage are so important’, sharing her passion for place and culture. The sessions will take place between 2 - 4pm on the 1st, 5th, 8th, 12th, 15th, and 22nd March, and will be held on Zoom.

The west coast of Scotland has a wonderful array of heritage and culture, architecture and environments, and stories of migrations to and from the region. These thematic sessions, focused around the six themes of architecture, environment, culture, migrations, industries, and histories, will have a series of speakers discuss the theme of the day before gathering around a virtual table to encourage sharing of stories around the same theme. The sessions will take place between 11am - 1pm on the 1st, 5th, 8th, 12th, 15th, and 22nd March, and will be held on Zoom. 

The Coast that Shaped the World project is part of a new £5 million Scottish programme of projects to invest in the Highlands and islands to provide more and better-quality opportunities for visitors to enjoy natural and cultural heritage assets. The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund is led by NatureScot and is part funded through the European Development Fund (ERDF).

The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund will encourage people to visit some of the more remote and rural areas and create and sustain jobs, businesses, and services in local communities. The purpose of the fund is to promote and develop the outstanding natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and islands in a way that conserves and protects them.

The project is managed by the Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research at West Highland College UHI, and four creative consultants have been appointed to help deliver the project - ruralDimensions, Lateral NorthWhereverly and Soluis Heritage. Match funding for the project has also come from Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) and West Highland College UHI, giving the whole project a value of over £500,000.

ruralDimensions with support from Lateral North have been appointed as the Project Co-ordinator to lead on gathering and curating the stories, and then working with the other consultants to bring these stories to life and promote the project.

Carron Tobin from ruralDimensions commented:

“This is a really exciting stage in the story gathering work.  We now have over 400 stories from across the west coast and know there are many more we can gather.  The plan is to use these workshops to help people from each area and with specific interests to find out more about Coast and help us gather stories not yet in our story bank.  We’d be delighted to see as many people as possible at the events that match their interests.”

NatureScot Project and Funding Officer Susan Webster added:

“The COAST project is a very exciting opportunity for people to share and enjoy stories from the West coast of Scotland. An amazing coast that has, and continues to, shape our world. It strongly addresses the objectives of the ERDF Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund to produce a new product which will improve the visitor experience in more remote and rural areas of the Highlands and Islands.”